Ear Candy Crazy

I’ve been busy crafting the last couple of weeks, this time focusing on my beads and my tools.  For starters, I’ve finally found the time and the will to go through my loose bead bins.  I have made it a habit to have small tubs  to collect loose beads in when I work with bigger batches.  Sometimes,  I end up collecting them in my work trays and then just pour them into the bins.  During several previous clean ups, I’ve sometimes managed to separate the freshwater pearls from the gemstones from the Czech pressed glass and metal findings.

I’ve been sorting individual organizers a bin at a time, actually gathering jumprings and putting the clasps and the eyepins and other headpins in separate containers.  Yes, I’m getting organized in a major way.  I have been pleasantly surprised to discover strings of beads I had all but forgotten I had, and while I’m excited to do something with each find, I need to get them all sorted out first.

One of my favorite suppliers is Fire Mountain Gems which has assortable pricing that progressively goes down depending on the number of items you buy.  This usually makes a difference when buying regular price items which can be pulled down dramatically when you purchase at certain price levels.  In addition, when they go on sale, they REALLY go on sale.  The only thing is you have to trust your visuals.  That can be tough when you’re looking at gemstones, but you have to pay attention to dimensions and string size.

I have always found it helpful to have an actual ruler in front of me when I am shopping online for beads and other materials.  It helps me visualize the size of the bead.  A 6mm round bead is not much different from an 8mm so it helps to actually see the bars that make a difference on that ruler.

During one of  those sales, there was a bead mix that was on sale for 25 cents per pack, with the catch that you had to purchase a minimum of 8 packs of 125 beads .  I’ve purchased a set of amethyst chips in the same packaging, and the quality wasn’t bad for the price I had paid.  At the time I made the purchase, I was thinking of actually embellishing brooches and my clutch purse with gemstones and shell beads.  The idea was to get beads small enough to  embroider or sew into something else.  And how can you argue with the price?  I went for 2 batches or 16 orders of the assortment.

I had to go and unstring the beads and sort them by kind.  The amethyst and rose quartz were quite the find, along with the green aventurine and prehnite in the batch.  The strings aren’t labeled, so unless you know how to eyeball a gemstone, you will end up going by color.

I had ordered these in July of last year but didn’t start unpacking each little bag until earlier this month.  I would say I got lucky with this buy.  You would have to have the patience to sort through the beads because the size and quality varied from string to string, but they all came together after they had been unstrung and sorted out.  It also helps me in creative process to actually go through the loose beads laid out flat on a tray.

Here’s what I can up with — gem stacks in various sizes.

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Square flat beads in green aventurine.. the stack wasn’t hard to imagine, but it meant finding the same cut in all the strings.  It takes some patience to actually unstring the beads and lay them all out on a plate or pad so you can see them side by side.  That’s my design process, and that might not work for everyone.

I tried to group them by shapes, then by size.  These are chips and irregularly shaped and sized, so it takes a bit of effort, but once you find the designs forming in your head, it is actually a good way of letting your creativity loose to pull a design you can work on.

There were also a sizeable chunk of prehnite beads which, at first, I thought were tourmalinated quartz because of the strings of black streaks.  But no, they turned out to be the former.   I have had a lot of fun working with the chips.  Sometimes I find it uncanny how design ideas don’t come to me until I unstrung the beads and actually hold the individual pieces.
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I guess we each have our own creative process we follow with our creations.  Mine has certainly evolved through the years, more so when I find old pieces from my early years, even if only in pictures.  I haven’t posted any in the shop for sale yet.  I am earmarking these for my #Giftof50 giveaways on the main blog.

Working with Sari Silk Ribbon

There are times when I see some material that just calls out to me even before I know what I am going to do with it.  Sometimes I am prodded to buy something with an end product in mind.  I’ve found that it’s a little dangerous to do the former more often that not, because you end up with something you end up not using.

I can’t remember now what brought me to sari silk, but I do have quite a stash.  I think it was all those beautiful ideas for incorporate a piece of ribbon or a strip of this and that in my research.

Over the previous weekend, I came up with this new idea to actually wrap some brass bangles bought at a deep discount in one of the many accessory stores here in NYC — and that was just for starters.

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These are bits of literal saris that have been cut and repurposed to form continuous strips of say 10 yards and color coordinated to provide a colorful ball of fabric yarn.  The edges are not finished, but the raw quality actually lends a bohemian feel to the material.  The width of the strip varies from batch to batch and is not straight, so it makes for a very versatile ribbon.

Sari Silk yarn

Looking back now, I seem to remember the idea I had in mind was to actually use these to string beads or to provide a necklace for a pendant.  They are available in single colors of varying or solid hues, or in combinations like the above.  Pretty, don’t you agree?

They come in batches of 10 yards and that’s plenty for a necklace or two.  I have even tried crochetting with it, but it’s a little difficult even with the bigger chunky hooks, and the end product is a tad stiff.  So that one, I think I will need to develop first.

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In addition to my sari silk ribbon, I had also acquired some hand-dyed silk from a local designer here in New York, one time she was trying to get rid of her fabric scraps.  I used her silk scraps for the rightmost bracelet you see in the picture above.

I am definitely not done yet with these bracelets, because even from the get go, I had made up my mind that they were just base bracelets I will decorate and embellish.  I’m thinking about adding freshwater pearls, gemstone chips, and some hammered wires.  I’m taking it slow with the creative process here because I want to come up something fun and happy and colorful yet something that makes a statement.  (Now, that’s a bit of pressure there.)

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These gorgeous pinks were part of another batch of sari silk yarn.  The baby pink was actually sewn into the batch and while I could’ve easily cut it and start wrapping the bracelet from where the magenta began, I thought it would be a fun way to actually blend two different shades into one piece.    I think it came out pretty well.

So let’s see how these bracelets end up in, given a couple of days or maybe a week or two.  I’ve been carrying them in one of my vanity bags for inspiration.  If they don’t make it to the store, I might actually end up wearing them.  How’s that for some happy arm candy?

Upcycling wire

One thing I’ve been trying to learn about and be good at is working with craft wire in various gauges.  The problem with wire, though, is that once you work with it, there’s no straightening it out to be reused in its original state. It also takes time to untangle and undo.

Over the weekend, I had started to reorganize my beads and found a stash of them “all wired up” but not quite in the way I would be happy with.  It took some reworking but I finally got them undone and the wire set aside for upcycling.

I sorted them by thickness and cut them in uniform lengths.  I’ve been experimenting with creating findings out of coiled flattened wire.  Pounding wire takes some practice because (1) you have to apply roughly the same pressure to the entire wire, more so if you’re trying to come up with multiples of the same size.  (2)  You have to work a wire from one end to the other on the same side, more so in the first pass when you are flattening a round wire.  This requires holding down the wire on the end you have already flattened to make sure it spreads out on the same side.

I have become comfortable with my hammer and tiny anvil and often work on a flat surface with the anvil on a magazine or some such support.  While we normally think that pounding wire actually thins it out and weakens it, working on wire this way actually hardens the wire because the action compresses it.  (This, of course, is a crafter’s explanation of what the process does..).

I start on one end and move slowly in multiples of 10.  (Pound one area 10x and then move a few millimeters out until I reach the end. ). Imagine yourself squeezing out the last bits of toothpaste from the tube and you’ll get what I’m trying to do.  I them flip the piece and do the same to the other side and I keep repeating this from end to end, both sides, until I achieve the thinness or width I want.  Again, remember to do it uniformly for all sides and all pieces.  Once done, I used my jumping pliers tool to create these coils.

Upcycling craft wire

It takes a while but it beats throwing away wire you’ve spent good money on.  They lend a rustic and handmade feel to my creations which I will be experimenting more with.  I really like the feel and look of the upcycled wire even against such elegant barrel faceted beads like the ones I have pictured here.  Some people produce the same effect with random wire wrapping on an ensemble like this as well. I just prefer the destructured feel it produces when you like them on with beads.

Upcycling craft wire

Midnight thoughts

Its past midnight and this is one Friday I am particularly exhausted but feeling fabulously good.  I had awoken from a semi-sleep remembering I still had my make up on. I was so deep into slumber that it took me a good half hour to finally open my eyes and get moving on the freshening-up-before-bed routine.  

Finally done.

Yet again, I am so deeply disappointed that my space here has lain dormant.  And every time I find the time to stop by here and write, I make another promise to rouse this corner of the web from its deep slumber.  Still trying.

Perhaps this time will be different. 

I just came back from a two-week trip to Manila, and although I purposely took it easy and tried my darnedest not to stress out about “seeing the sights,” I think I managed to make productive use of my time.  I had come armed with an arsenal of my own creations to give away as gifts.  My only regret is that I didn’t get to take pictures of all the pieces I created before they found a new home.

Like before, I wore my own creations and was flattered pink by the comments that were thrown my way.  It only convinced me all the more that I should continue to create and hopefully start selling again.  Well, that’s the plan.

Gift inspirations

I always find myself scrambling to create gifts when I head home to Manila, or when I take a trip to see friends or relatives.  This time around, I managed to scrounge up some last minute pieces which have actually inspired new designs I’m hoping to develop in the coming weeks.

#InspiredToCreate ; #SmokyQuartz and #mysticquartz  #formysister . #gothamchickEtsy #GothamChickinManila @handeagted #SpecialPiece #accesorjes #bracelet #handmadeI’ve had a fun time bringing together smooth smoky quartz nuggets and treated quartz chips together in a chunky bracelet that is simply strung together with eyepins in gold.

Another version has chunks of agate punctuated by treated quartz chips again.  It’s a contrast of plain color against metallic hues.  There’s something about larger and bulkier beads hanging from wrists that loosely instead of clinging onto the arm like they would if the beads were strung together that has me thinking of other combinations and possibilities.
#InspiredToCreate: #agate and #mysticquartz #bracelet #formysister #gothamchickEtsy #crafts #handmade
The shop has been dormant so I am actually seriously planning on starting to repost the expired listings.  Summer’s here and it’s actually the perfect time to work with materials that I cannot touch during the winter months for lack of pliability.  Polymer clay has started to appeal to me again, primarily because I have a ton of them in my supplies and they are dying to be transformed to something beyond the cubes of clay they are right now.

Well, this is a start.

I have actually created maybe 3-4 necklaces that I gave away but failed to photograph.  (My bad, I know.)  I have also managed to string up some rose quartz and then disassemble them later because the headpins had oxidized into the beads.  I so love rose quartz but find them very tricky to work with.  I am still trying to find a workable way to create pieces with them.

Updates soon, more so as BFF Donna is bugging me to send some pieces over down under with her birthday looming in the horizon.  Like I promised, soon.

In love with Blue Agate

Blue agate shoulder dusters I just love wearing.. Total drop approximately 3".. Flat faceted teardrop and rounded square beads.  Soon at the shop: Http://gothamchick.etsy.com #handmade #blueagate #blue #shoulderdusters #dropearrings #etsy #gothamchick #goI’ve been on a creative streak the last couple of weeks and have moved from crochetting undrilled gemstone nuggets to reviving my rosary bracelets to wiring agate slices.

Along the way, I’ve fished out some long-ago stashed away supplies and stumbled upon some new ones which continue to get me on road of experimentation that has produced quite a few creations I am very proud of.

Some are still “in development” which is that phase of production where even when you have a finished piece, you “test drive” the product by wearing it.  I do this for my more unusual pieces to what comments I get and if the integrity of the piece will hold together.

For the “conventional” designs, it goes straight from the production to photography to posting.

Pardon the grainy photo but there wasn’t enough light when I took it, I guess.  There are times when my iPhone cam is all I need to come up with a spectacular showcase, but other times, I’m reminded it IS just a phone cam.

I’ve been so enamored by these blue agate beads which I have found in various shapes and sizes in flat faceted form — and I have been wearing the above pair for a while now simply because I love it.  A real shoulder duster pair, the agates are very airy and light because although there are three major chunks of agate in this piece, they are held together rosary style by gold findings which makes them sway with you as you move about while wearing them.  They have a very regal shade of blue that makes you look and look a second time.  I don’t even have to add any other major embellishments and voila — such a statement piece.  Coming soon to the Etsy Shop, I have several configurations I’m putting together and hope to post this week..

The Store is slowly getting back on its feet again which is good.  It has taken me long enough to get back to tending it and growing the inventory again.  Traffic is picking up as well, which is good.  Now, if I can only make things pick up in this corner… (First, I have to keep posting, I know.)

Thanks for stopping by…

Splashes of Color

In Mags: splashes of color
I take my everyday inspiration from splashes of color I see in magazine layouts or in everyday things I come across when I go through my day.

I don’t pretend to know the best color schemes. I am a consumer like you and I take inspiration from artists and other creative people. I often browse the colorful ads in the magazines and I take my cue from there. I look at the overall tone (dark, warm, bright) and then I look at the individual colors present.

These days I’ve been busy twisting and threading wire. I’m trying to come up with color compositions to make the stones compliment the one next to it. Sometimes I simply play it by ear.

Work in progress: agate beads and wire-wrappingBeads and color

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting but also recognize that I have to start producing my regular pieces along the way. I am hoping to post a few soon as Mother’s Day, after all, is just around the corner. At least I’m focusing on my store again.

There are also some very good sales at the moment, but I’m trying not to purchase anything beyond what I need for my experimenting.

My gauge 28 wire is a current favorite. It’s thin enough to manipulate and molds nicely to take the shape of what I’m trying to wrap. It’s getting easier but like any skill, it takes practice.